Justice

Police Say There Is No Link Between Chicago Kidnapping and Black Lives Matter

The kidnapping and beating of a white 18-year-old special needs student by four black teens in Chicago on Tuesday, which was broadcast on Facebook Live, has created a racial firestorm on social media.

Police have condemned the attack as "sickening." However, despite the documented use of racially motivated language in the video, authorities have thus far claimed the attack was more likely to be an attempt at extortion than a racially motivated hate crime. They also stated that there is no evident connection between the beating and the Black Lives Matter movement, despite unfounded assertions from social media users, CNN reports.

Here's what police and local journalists know so far:

On Tuesday afternoon, Chicago police found a young man wandering around on the city's West Side wearing shorts, despite freezing weather. Investigators were able to piece together that he'd been kidnapped and beaten. At around the same time a call regarding an unrelated crime involving the four suspects came in. The suspects were arrested and quickly linked to the kidnapping. At the same time, Facebook Live videos of their torture of the victim were discovered and pulled down by the social networking site.

These videos showed graphic and harrowing torture, with the victim being threatened with stabbing and cutting, and one point someone appears to cut him on the head and draw blood. During the attack, the alleged perpetrators yelled out "fuck Donald Trump" and "fuck white people" while demanding the victim say he loved black people, despite his mouth being taped shut, and repeatedly telling him he would be murdered.

According to a Thursday morning press conference held by the Chicago Police Department, who did not immediately respond to ATTN:'s request for a comment, the kidnapping was likely not a random attack. The victim told police he knew at least one of the attackers from school, and evidence released thus far points to the group kidnapping the victim in the northwest suburb where he lived, and driving him to Chicago in a stolen van. Their motive is unclear, Chicago Police said it might have been a botched attempt at extortion, as police claim the attackers were texting the victim's parents during the kidnapping.

As yet, Chicago police haven't revealed whether they'll be charging the four with a hate crime, which they can, given the apparent targeting of a special needs victim.

As evidence from the case still unfolds, social media users have insisted the crime was racially motivated, and a product of the Black Lives Matter Movement, despite contrary statements made by authorities investigating the case.

Thus far, there is no evidence connecting the four kidnappers to Black Lives Matter, nor any revealed evidence that the victim was targeted because he supported Trump, nor that he supported Trump in the first place. The group made no statement on the video regarding Black Lives Matter, nor has there been any published link in any of their social media profiles to the group.

In spite of the lack of evidence, the hashtag #BLMKidnapping began trending on Twitter.

It was pushed by a now-familiar coalition of Trump supporters, alt-right figureheads, and professional social media provocateurs, advancing an evidence-free racial smear for clicks ad web traffic.

The alleged but unsubstantiated link was given further reach by mainstream figures like Glenn Beck.

So far, civil rights groups like the NAACP and ACLU haven't commented. ATTN: reached out to both groups' Illinois chapters, and the Illinois ACLU's Director of Communications and Public Policy told ATTN: they had no formal statement, and "would like to see the process of investigation and justice play out without the need to score political or ideological points in some battle." Deray McKesson, who often serves as a public face of Black Lives Matter, tweeted the attack have "nothing to do" with the group.

ATTN: will update this piece with further information and comments as warranted.